You took a look at your last paycheck and your heart sank. It is a cruel world out there and the forces of nature are against you. You've got the ever shrinking check being mauled by the brutal increases in prices on everything and, yet, you want to do the right thing and help others. Here are a few simple ways to help others using a limited budget.
Of course, well known charities would appreciate your donation of time or money, but let's think on a smaller scale that can still make a big impact.
Schools If you have school aged children, consider donating simple items to the school. Supplies for the Art Department are welcome. During the Book Fair, purchase a few books for the library or your teacher's classroom. Some schools have herb gardens, food drives, weekend backpack programs (filled with nonperishables for underprivileged students) and the donations are very cheap to purchase. I've often donated extras from my own school supply stash and it is always appreciated.
Daycares Your child's daycare might be able to use diapers or wipes your wee one has outgrown. Is there a coupon box in the lobby? Send some outfits your child has outgrown to other classrooms to be used for kids who have had accidents. Donate adult button-up shirts to be used as art smocks.
Animal Shelters Old bath and beach towels are welcome items at pet shelters. When we adopted our darling puppy, we received a coupon for a free bag of dog food. It wasn't a brand we intended to use, so we took the bag and donated it back to the shelter. Many shelters operate on donations only. Consider giving them any food your pet doesn't like. Thanks to my aunt's picky feline, who changed its mind about the menu monthly, her local shelter had a healthy supply of a multitude of feline flavors.
Nursing Homes and Medical Facilities After my mother and aunt passed away, I was left with enough brand new craft supplies to open a small store. The nursing home and a group home for mentally challenged patients received the bulk of the supplies and it was heartwarming to know it was all put to use by people who would truly appreciate it. My aunt was in a nursing home for a while before passing away. We had made every effort to make her room cozy and comfortable. After she passed away, we donated her clothes, room decorations, phone, wall clock, art work and other items to the facility. The local War Veteran's Home is a good option, too.
The Giving Jar In the kitchen, we have a huge glass jar labeled 'The Giving Jar.' Spare change that doesn't make it to the Vacation Jar ends up here. It's also a great visual for kids, too. We've used the money to buy a meal for neighbors who've had loved ones pass away. We've also used the funds to buy a gift card to a local restaurant. We put it with a take out menu and gave it to the new parents down the street. If no big events come up, we take the jar and put the proceeds in a Christmas bell ringer's bucket. Donating to our puppy's animal shelter is probably going to be this year's donation site.
You don't have to be rich to share. You just have to have a big heart and a little creativity.